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Debevoise, Shearman Join Group Matching Associate Bonus Scale

Nov. 14, 2019, 10:16 PM

Debevoise & Plimpton and Shearman & Sterling have become the latest firms to sign on to the year-end associate bonus scale announced last week by fellow Big Law firm Milbank.

A Debevoise spokeswoman confirmed that its bonus scale would match Milbank’s, which ranges from $15,000 for its newest associates, to $100,000 for its most senior.

Shearman & Sterling also told Bloomberg Law on Thursday that it would follow the bonus scale for its U.S. track associates.

Each year, Big Law associates eagerly await the release of information on end-of-year bonuses. The extra cash is a major recruiting incentive and signifies prestige for firms.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore typically was the firm to set associate bonus standards until 2018, when Milbank took the lead. Milbank was first again this year when it announced its 2019 scale last week.

Other firms have said they will match Milbank, including Cravath, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, Proskauer Rose, Clifford Chance, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The full bonus scale for associates at these firms is as follows:

Class of 2019 – $15,000 (prorated)

Class of 2018 – $15,000

Class of 2017 – $25,000

Class of 2016 – $50,000

Class of 2015 – $65,000

Class of 2014 – $80,000

Class of 2013 – $90,000

Class of 2012 – $100,000

Class of 2011 and above – $100,000

Two additional firms appear to have shared their bonus information as well.

According to a pair of Nov. 14 posts on the Above the Law blog, Davis Polk & Wardwell will pay associates end-of-year bonuses that match Milbank, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom will pay on a scale that is largely the same.

Above the Law said Skadden’s class of 2013 will receive bonuses of $90,000 or $100,000, instead of simply $90,000. And, Skadden’s class of 2012 and its more senior associates will receive $100,000 or $110,000, in contrast to a flat $100,000.

With assistance from Meghan Tribe

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; Rebekah Mintzer at

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